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chocolate cake on white plate with fork taking bite

Meaningful Eats

Easy Gluten-Free Chocolate Cake

This fluffy, moist gluten-free chocolate cake piled high chocolate buttercream frosting is so easy to make! It's sure to become your new go-to recipe.
Sour cream and buttermilk make the cake especially delicious (dairy-free option if needed) and a secret ingredient in the frosting makes this cake the best.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 12 servings


Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 cups gluten-free 1:1 baking flour 310 grams
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder 50 grams
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  • 1 ¾ cup granulated sugar 350 grams
  • ½ cup oil vegetable, canola or coconut oil will work (melted if using coconut oil)
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup hot water

For the Frosting:

  • cup unsweetened cocoa powder 35 grams
  • ½ cup butter softened to room temperature
  • 3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar 340-450 grams
  • ¼ cup heavy cream or milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract


  • Preheat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9x13inch pan with cooking spray.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the sugar, coconut oil, eggs, sour cream, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Mix on medium-high speed until totally combined.
  • With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients in 3 additions. Mixing after each addition. Slowly pour in the hot water. Mix on medium for 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides once until smooth and incorporated.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting.

Make the Frosting:

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the cocoa powder. Mix to smooth any lumps. Add the butter and mix until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and mix on low until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy.
  • Top the cooled cake with the frosting. Swirl and spread the frosting evenly over the cake. Slice and enjoy!



Ingredient Notes
For the Cake:
  • A high-quality gluten-free 1:1 baking flour: I like to use gluten-free measure-for-measure flour blend like King Arthur Flour in my baked goods. It works best to use a blend that contains xanthan gum in this recipe.
  • Oil: I prefer to use oil for this cake rather than butter. Oil allows for a light, moist crumb that doesn’t clump up as it tends too with butter.
  • Buttermilk: This chocolate cake requires the moisture and acidity from buttermilk. 
  • Sour cream: Using part sour cream in place of what would usually be more buttermilk gives this cake stability. It also gives it a delicious flavor and richness!
  • Hot water: Hot water allows the cocoa powder to absorb and the batter to hydrate properly. It also enhances the cocoa powders flavor!
For the Frosting:
  • Cocoa powder: You can use any kind of cocoa powder. I usually use Hershey’s but Dutch-processed will work as well. It will make for a richer frosting.
  • Almond extract: This is the secret ingredient! I think it really makes the cake. A little almond extract compliments the rich chocolate flavors so well.
  • Butter: I like to use salted butter in frosting. That little bit of salt cuts through the sweetness.
Dairy-Free Chocolate Cake
You can easily make this cake dairy-free with a few substitutions.
  • Use Kite Hill dairy-free sour cream in place of the sour cream.
  • Use ½ cup almond milk + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar in place of the buttermilk.
  • Use vegan butter in the frosting.


Serving: 1slice (of 12 pieces) | Calories: 509kcal | Carbohydrates: 80g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 54mg | Sodium: 524mg | Potassium: 184mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 60g | Vitamin A: 352IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2mg